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Chatter grows on Mike McCalister entering Ag Commissioner race

Going on a few months, Florida Politics has been tracking Republican Mike McCalister and the possibility he may enter the wide-open race for Agriculture Commissioner.

Chatter surrounding the much-discussed retired Army Colonel and former U.S. Senate candidate was loudest at the Republican Party of Florida annual meeting in January.

Bringing some solid retail politicking, McCalister worked the room as if he were already a candidate.

As of today, he is not in the race. But we are increasingly hearing that could change … and soon.

Longtime readers may recall McCalister’s surprising run for Florida governor in 2010, when he took more than 10 percent in the Rick ScottBill McCollum Republican primary, garnering over 130,000 votes in a race where Scott famously defeated McCollum by just 36,000 votes.

What made it surprising (more like stunning): McCalister spent just $8,500 on his campaign — in contrast to the Scott-McCollum primary spend of over $50,000,000.

The next election cycle, McCalister followed up with a Senate run, challenging incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Ultimately, he finished third behind former Congressmen Connie Mack and Dave Weldon.

Now the talk is even louder of a return by McCalister to a statewide ballot, most noticeable by recent forays into Republican clubs and county executive committee meetings, such as a visit at 7 p.m. to the Kings Point Republican Club for a town hall meeting deep in the heart of vote-rich Delray Beach.

Making the Republican rounds, McCalister has proved he can get votes with little cash resources. In addition to serving 33 years in the Army, Army Reserves and National Guard, he has earned real agriculture bona fides by owning and operating a Plant City tree farm.

While he hasn’t filed (yet) sources in the Republican Party say it’s a decision for the spring — which Punxsutawney Phil proclaimed is only about 5 weeks away.

Keep an eager eye on McCalister’s potential candidacy as it develops — as will Matt Caldwell, Denise Grimsley and Baxter Troutman.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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